The Face of Cassia

Betty from Elim Wellspring at parade

Chit, Chat, and Other Bikes Help Residents Hit the Open Road

Sometimes, all you need is a bicycle and the open road to make your spirits soar. At Milaca Elim Meadows, Newton Village and Praha Village, tandem-style bicycles allow staff to take residents for rides through their neighborhoods. Many will say the rides give them a sense of freedom that’s hard to match.

Milaca Elim Meadows Assisted Living Director KathyAnn Langlie and Life Enrichment Director Molly Winters were overjoyed when a unique source of funding came through for their community’s bikes:

“Many months ago, I sensed a huge opportunity for our entire campus; a trishaw bike (combining a three-wheeler and rickshaw) to allow us to bring residents out into the community,” KathyAnn says. She was contacted in 2020 by Motorcycle Ride for the Mind in Royalton, Minnesota.

The mission of Ride for the Mind is simple: to keep searching for a cure and to care for those afflicted with the disease. They have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for this mission.

The motorcycle club asked if Milaca Elim Meadows had any requests that would enhance the lives of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia related challenges. When pressed to send a “wish list,” KathyAnn mentioned The Chat Trishaw bike, named for how the bike allows riders to chat while riding.

Riding for a Cure

A short time later, representatives from Motorcycle Ride for the Mind toured Elim Meadows and presented the community with a check for $12,315. “We had NO IDEA what amount we were to be receiving for this gift,” KathyAnn says. “As they handed me the check they exclaimed, ‘Here is your bike!’ Tears, unbelief, shaking hands and PRAISES to God followed!”

 “Chit” Bike Brings Traveling Joys to Those in Wheelchairs

“I marvel at the correlation of those riding motorcycles and our residents experiencing the wind on their faces, the smell of the seasons and the joy of traveling down the road!” KathyAnn says. After receiving the chat bike, Milaca Elim Meadows asked for a second tri-shaw bike that accommodates skilled nursing residents in wheelchairs—and were able to raise the money to pay for it.

As the first bike was called a “chat bike,” staff named the second bike Chit. Now, Chit and Chat are regularly used by residents, due to some dedicated volunteers and Molly’s commitment to take residents for hundreds of rides this past spring, summer and fall!

Both Chit and Chat were featured in the Milaca parade in June, 2022. Waves and shouts of joy from spectators were enthusiastic, as so many residents of the area are familiar with the bikes. Residents use the opportunity for a bike ride to do small errands around town too, whether they be at the library, bank or the coffee of the day at a local coffee shop.

Marilyn’s Two Can Bikes at Praha Village Honor Creator’s Mom

Other Cassia communities are enjoying specially crafted bikes as well. In 2021, residents with mobility challenges at Praha Village received the chance to experience the joys of bike riding. The bicycles were created by Kathy Haubrich from Shakopee, Minnesota, who originally created the bicycle for her late mother Marilyn, who lived most of her life with polio.

When Kathy’s mother’s health took a turn for the worse after a fall, Kathy worked for eight years to try and create the bicycle she wanted. She started out by modifying a tricycle she found for sale online. She and her mother used the tricycle until her mother’s death in 2016.

Kathy then realized her mother would want her to share the bicycle with others. However, the tricycle she used originally only worked if a third person was available to help the individual in a wheelchair to sit on it.

Kathy started a GoFundMe account and purchased a $5,000 tricycle with a wheelchair platform that makes it far more accessible. Now, she has two bicycles, called “Marilyn’s TwoCan bikes” because people can ride together and the bikes are named in honor of her mom. Kathy volunteers her time to take older adults and others with disabilities on rides. Her friends help out on rides when she is using both tricycles.

Newton Village Bike Serves All Abilities

You can also read a story in our 2019 gratitude report about residents enjoying the All Ability Bike at Newton Village in Newton, Iowa. Residents ride with a staff member four mornings a week in spring, summer and fall on days the weather permits. The bikes were ridden at Newton’s Fourth of July parade and the Jasper County Fair parade. All the bikes mentioned here go a long way toward enhancing the quality of residents’ lives.

Thank you, Motorcycle Ride for the Mind, Kathy Haubrich and all the generous donors who helped bring Chit and Chat, the All Ability Bike and TwoCan Bikes to Milaca Elim Meadows, Newton Village and Praha village. Your gifts foster fullness of life for countless residents.